Table of Contents


Information for specific audiences:


This compilation of policies and procedures related to teaching from a variety of USC documents was made in Fall 2010. Because the policies and procedures are subject to change by the university, links to the official documents are provided.

Note: Many departments or schools may also have their own policies and procedures that you are required to follow. Contact your department chair or dean for details.

Please consult the links to the actual documents for any changes or revisions.

1. Teaching Responsibility

(USC Columbia Faculty Manual p.47)

  • Instructional objectives should be clearly outlined in the course syllabus.
  • The course should follow the description as published in the university bulletins
  • Students should be informed of grading and attendance requirements.
  • At the request of a student, a faculty member should provide, before the free drop date, an evaluation of the student’s progress.
  • Final examinations should be retained for one semester; graded exams and papers should be reviewed with students if desired; exams should be graded and returned promptly.
  • If the faculty member is unable to meet the class at the regularly scheduled time, they should notify the dean or department chair.
  • A reasonable number of office hours should be posted, as determined administratively, with the option of appointments.

2. FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

(FERPA Fast Facts for Faculty and Staff Document)

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was passed in 1974 by Congress to require educational institutions to provide students access to their educational records, allow students to correct inaccurate or misleading information in these records, and limit the release of information to third parties.

If the student has requested non-disclosure of even basic "directory" information (email address, i.d. photo, basic enrollment information), you will see a highlighted notation when you drill down to student information from the VIP class roll.

As faculty, you are responsible for controlling access and protecting the student records you possess:

  • Do not provide anyone with student information, including schedules.
  • Keep confidential paper in file cabinets and shred rather than trash.
  • Keep your faculty/staff VIP PIN secure and keep VIP & IMS screens hidden from unauthorized individuals.
  • Final grades are posted on VIP-there should be no need to post elsewhere.
  • If you post exam or assignment grades throughout the term, use a system that ensures that FERPA requirements are met, such as Blackboard or using code words or randomly assigned numbers that only the instructor and individual student know.
  • Even with written and dated permission from the student, do not use any part of the social security number (USC does not want to contribute to the identity theft problem).
  • Don’t leave graded assignments together in a public place for students to pick up (and see the grades of others).
  • Be sensitive to student privacy-don’t inadvertently display confidential information on distributed class materials.
  • Decline requests from parents - refer them to the Dean or University Registrar.
  • Don’t volunteer confidential information in letters of recommendation (get specific written request from student).
  • Get signed confidentiality statements from staff, faculty, graduate assistants, and student workers who work with student educational records.

Take the FERPA Quiz :

For more information, consult the entire document:

3. Normal Work Schedule

(USC Columbia Faculty Manual p.48)

The work schedules of full-time faculty are necessarily flexible, but the normal teaching assignment shall be twelve hours or its equivalent. Teaching assignments will be affected by the number of students in the class, the level of the course, research, and other factors.

All absences of faculty members shall be reported to the dean. Faculty members shall obtain approval of absences from their chair or, in nondepartmentalized units, the dean. Faculty members’ sick leaves in excess of five consecutive days shall be reported to the Provost by memorandum.

4. Academic Freedom

(USC Columbia Faculty Manual p.53)

Faculty are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but shall not introduce controversial matters that have no relation to the subjects.

5. Attendance Policy

(USC Undergraduate Bulletin - Attendance Policy)

Students are obligated to complete all assigned work promptly, to attend class regularly, and to participate in whatever class discussion may occur.
Absence from more than 10 percent of the scheduled class sessions, whether excused or unexcused, is excessive and the instructor may choose to exact a grade penalty for such absences. It is of particular importance that a student who anticipates absences in excess of 10 percent of the scheduled class sessions receives prior approval from the instructor before the last day to change schedule as published in the academic and refund calendars on the registrar’s Web site (

It must be emphasized that the “10 percent rule” stated above applies to both excused and unexcused absences. Faculty members should notify classes, specifically in the course syllabi, the attendance policy which they intend to follow in each class. It is also recommended that the faculty include a policy statement in their syllabi requesting students to meet with the instructor early in the semester to discuss the consequences of potential excessive absences due to participation in University-sponsored events.

Faculty should consider the following events or circumstances as potentially excusable absences:

  • participation in an authorized University activity (such as musical performances, academic competitions, or varsity athletic events in which the student plays a formal role in a University sanctioned event)
  • required participation in military duties
  • mandatory admission interviews for professional or graduate school which cannot be rescheduled
  • participation in legal proceedings or administrative duties that require a student’s presence
  • death or major illness in a student’s immediate family
  • illness of a dependent family member
  • religious holy day if listed on
  • illness that is too severe or contagious for the student to attend class
  • weather-related emergencies

The Student Ombudsperson in the Division of Student Affairs is available to assist faculty members with obtaining or verifying documentation when necessary. The faculty member has complete discretion regarding the specific nature of any accommodation offered in the event of an excused absence. Students should notify faculty members at least two weeks prior to the absence when possible. In all cases, students must contact the faculty member to request an accommodation upon return to class.

6. Tutoring

(USC Columbia Faculty Manual p.46)

No member of the teaching staff shall receive compensation for tutoring students in any course for which the member is empowered to grant the student credit or over which that member has any authority. This regulation does not prohibit tutoring for remuneration in subjects over which the tutor has no control.

7. Student Evaluation of Courses

(Academic Affairs Policy 1.04)

A student evaluation is required in every course with 5 or more students.

Each campus, or college or department within a campus, can use its own standardized evaluation form, but such form must include the questions mandated by the Provost and the S.C.Commission on Higher Education. Results are shared with the instructor after the final grades have been submitted.

Consult the evaluation guidelines and mandated questions at:

8. Use of Self-Authored Materials

(Academic Affairs Policy 1.34)

Requiring students to purchase classroom materials which are authored by the instructor of the course, and from which the instructor derives direct financial benefit may constitute a violation of the South Carolina Ethics Act, or may present the appearance of a conflict-of-interest or a lack of objectivity. Therefore, requiring students to purchase classroom materials which are authored by the instructor of the course and from which the instructor derives direct financial benefit is allowed only when approved in writing by the instructor’s administrative supervisor.

For more details, consult this policy at:

9. Textbook Orders

(USC Columbia Faculty Manual p.55)

Instructors normally shall order textbooks on a nonexclusive basis through the Russell House Bookstore.

Instructors experiencing difficulty with textbook orders should discuss it with the director of the bookstore. If the problem persists, instructors should present the problem in writing to the Bookstores Committee. If the problem is not resolved to the satisfaction of the instructor, the textbook order may be placed exclusively with other stores. When doing so, the instructor shall inform the director of the Russell House Bookstore.

Instructors shall not sell textbooks or other materials to their classes.

(Business Affairs Policy 3.00)

The University requires that all book adoptions made by teaching faculty be placed with the University Bookstore. Upon request, the University Bookstore makes copies of all book adoptions available to all off-campus bookstores.

For more details, consult this policy at:

10. Use of Copyrighted Materials for a Course

(USC Beaufort Libraries)

Single Copies for Classroom Use

Fair use guidelines allow teachers to make single copies of the following:

  • A chapter from a book
  • An article from a periodical or newspaper
  • A short story, short essay, or short poem, whether or not from a collective work
  • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper
Single Copying in Libraries

For research purposes, a teacher may select books, magazines or journal articles, or other documents, to be placed "on reserve" in the library, which functions as an extension of the classroom.

Students may borrow these materials and make single copies on machines that are plainly marked with notices citing protection of the works under the Copyright Act. The students, as users of self-service photocopiers, are held accountable for any copyright violations.

Libraries may also make single copies for use "on reserve," but ONLY at the request of a faculty member. At the end of the semester, these copies must be returned to the faculty member.

Multiple Copies for Classroom Use

Fair use guidelines allow teachers to make multiple copies with the following limitations:

  • The copying MUST be done at the initiative of the teacher (at a moment of inspiration, when it is unreasonable to get permission from the copyright owner). NOTE: If you have time to seek a publisher's reprint, or get permission, you are obligated to do so. It is only if you do NOT have time that "fair use" allows you to make copies for students.
  • Only one copy is made for each student.
  • No charge is made to the student except to recover the cost of copying.
  • The copying is done for only one course.
  • The same item is NOT reproduced from term to term.
  • No more than one work is copied from a single author.
  • No more than three authors are copied from a single collective work (e.g., an anthology).
  • No more than nine instances of multiple copying occur during a single term or semester.
  • For an article, the limit is 2,500 words.
  • For a longer work of prose, the limit is 1,000 words, or 10% of the work, whichever is less.
  • For a poem, the limit is 250 words.
  • For a longer poem, an excerpt of no more than 250 words.
  • For a chart, diagram, cartoon or picture, the limit is no more than one from a book, periodical or newspaper.
  • "Consumable works," (e.g., workbooks and standardized tests) shall NOT be copied.

The practice of creating "Coursepacks" of selected readings for students to use in their coursework is surrounded by controversy. It's probably an issue that falls more properly under the category of making multiple copies. In any event, under the law, coursepacks may be:

  • Limited for brevity
  • Limited to one semester or term
  • Limited to non-profit educational settings
  • Subject to acquisition of permissions or licensing

For more information, consult:

11. Final Examinations

(USC Columbia Faculty Manual, p.54 and USC Regional Faculty Manual, p. 54)

Each semester faculty members shall give final examinations, including laboratory exams, in accordance with the published schedule and shall not deviate from it without prior approval from the dean.

The current academic calendar and examination schedule can be viewed through the Registrar’s website:

Faculty members shall meet the stated deadlines for submitting grade reports. All grades shall be submitted to the chair or dean no later than seventy-two hours after the date of the scheduled final examination. Grades for graduating students may be required earlier than other grades, but in no case shall faculty members be required to submit grades before noon of the day after the final examination. All students listed on the grade sheet shall be given a grade.

Exam Schedules

(USC Undergraduate Bulletin)

Final examinations for spring and fall semesters are held during a seven-day period at the close of each semester. Summer examinations are held during a two-day period at the close of each session. Semester examination schedules are published on the registrar’s Web site under the "Calendar" link. The results of these examinations, combined with the grades for class performance, determine the reports given at the end of the semester. No final examination may be held outside of the stated time without the special permission of the dean of the college concerned.

In any course or laboratory which meets two or three times per week, no quiz, test, or examination may be given during the last two class meetings prior to the regularly scheduled examination period. In any course or laboratory which meets once a week, no quiz, test, or examination may be given during the last class meeting prior to the regular examination period. In any course or laboratory which meets more than three times per week, no quiz, test, or examination may be given during the last three class meetings prior to the regular examination period. Self-paced courses are exempt from this regulation.

If an instructor teaches more than one section of the same course, students may transfer from one examination section to another with the instructor's permission.

Students who are absent from any final examination will be given the grade of F on the course if they have not offered an excuse acceptable to the instructor. If excused, they will be assigned a grade of I (see "I" entry under "Grading System"), and may complete the course under the conditions specified by the instructor in the "Assignment of Incomplete Grade" form.

Re-examinations for the purpose of removing an F or raising a grade are not permitted.

12. Grading System

(USC Undergraduate Bulletin)

Enrollment in a course obligates the student not only for prompt completion of all work assigned but also for punctual and regular attendance and for participation in whatever class discussion may occur. It is the student’s responsibility to keep informed concerning all assignments made. Absences, whether excused or unexcused, do not absolve the student from this responsibility.

Students’ grades in their courses are determined by class standing and examination grade, combined in such proportion as the professor may decide.

Class standing is determined by the quality of a student’s work and the regularity of attendance in lectures and laboratory sessions or other exercises of the course. Grading systems in graduate and professional schools are described in the appropriate bulletins.

A, B, C, D represent passing grades in order from highest to lowest. B+, C+, D+ may also be recorded. F represents failing performance.

S and U indicate, respectively, satisfactory (passing) and unsatisfactory (failing) performance in courses carried under the Pass-Fail option. The S/U designation is used also for some research courses, workshops, and seminars in which the regular academic grades are not used. The use of the Pass-Fail grading option in such courses is indicated in their bulletin descriptions. No course carried under the Pass-Fail option will affect a student’s grade point average or the evaluation of suspension conditions.

WF is assigned for student withdrawal from a course after the penalty deadline prescribed in the academic and refund calendars on the Registrar’s web site. (See section on "Dropping A Course.") The grade of WF is treated as an F in the evaluation of suspension conditions and grade point average computation.

W is assigned for student withdrawal from a course after the late registration period but before the penalty date. Courses dropped during the late registration period (as published in the academic and refund calendars on the Registrar’s web site) will not be recorded on a student’s permanent record. In exceptional cases, the grade W will be used after the first six weeks of a semester, primarily in cases of withdrawal from the University or from a course for medical reasons. (See section on "Dropping a Course.") A grade of W will not enter into the evaluation of suspension conditions or in grade point average computation but will be recorded on a student’s permanent record.

I, Incomplete, is assigned at the discretion of the instructor when, in the instructor’s judgment, a student is unable to complete some portion of the assigned work in a course because of an unanticipated illness, accident, work-related responsibility, family hardship, or verified learning disability. The grade of I is not intended to give students additional time to complete course assignments unless there is some indication that the specified condition or event prevented the student from completing course assignments on time. By arrangement with the instructor, the student will have up to 12 months in which to complete the work before a permanent grade is recorded. Re-enrolling in the course will not make up an Incomplete. An Assignment of Incomplete Grade form (AS-5) must be completed by the instructor and submitted to the Office of the University Registrar explaining the reason for the I and conditions for make-up. A grade of I is not computed in calculating a student's grade point average. After 12 months an I that has not been made up is changed to a grade of F or to the back-up grade indicated by the faculty member on the Assignment of Incomplete Grade form.

T, a Graduate School symbol, is assigned to indicate enrollment in Thesis Preparation (799) and Dissertation Preparation (899). Courses with this symbol will be counted as hours attempted and hours earned only. Grade points will not be awarded. For unsatisfactory work the grade of U should be assigned. The grade of I cannot be assigned in courses numbered 799 and 899.

AUD indicates a course was carried on an audit basis. (See section on "Auditing" for more information.)

NR, No Record, is assigned in the event that the grade is not available at the time final grades are submitted. It is a temporary mark on the transcript and must be replaced by a grade. If replacement does not occur before the last week of the spring or fall semester following the term for which the grade was recorded, a grade of F will be assigned. The NR is ignored in computing the GPA.

X on the transcript before a grade denotes an Honor Code Violation.

Pass-Fail Grading
The Pass-Fail program is designed to encourage students to investigate fields outside of their major curriculum in which they have a specific personal interest without affecting their grade point average. The only grades assigned on courses taken under the Pass-Fail option are S and U; a grade of S indicates satisfactory performance, a grade of U indicates unsatisfactory progress. A student will be given credit for courses in which the grade of S is earned, but these courses will not affect the computation of the grade point average.

(USC Graduate Bulletin)

The letter grades A, B, C, D, and F are employed to designate excellent, good, fair, poor, and failing work, respectively. The grades B+, C+, and D+ also may be recorded. Courses graded D+ or lower cannot be applied to degree programs. The letter grades S (satisfactory) and U (unsatisfactory) are assigned only in courses that have been approved for Pass-Fail grading or in a standard graded course where the student, with the approval of the dean of The Graduate School, has elected an individual Pass-Fail Option (see "Pass-Fail Option"). Courses completed with an S may be counted in total credits earned. Grades of T (satisfactory progress) or U (unsatisfactory progress) are given for thesis (799) and dissertation (899) preparation. Grades of T in thesis (799) and dissertation (899) preparation are not computed in the cumulative graduate grade point average. Graduate-level courses completed with the grade of U are calculated as an F in the cumulative graduate grade point average. In certain circumstances, grades of I (incomplete) or NR (no record) may be assigned by the instructor. Retaking a course does not delete the original grade.

Grades of "I" and "NR"
The grade of I, for incomplete, is assigned at the discretion of the instructor when, in the instructor's judgment, a student is prevented from completing a portion of the assigned work in a course because of an illness, accident, verified disability, family emergency, or some other unforeseen circumstance. The student should notify the instructor without delay and request an extension of time to complete the course work, but the request for a grade of incomplete must be made to the instructor before the end of the term. The instructor will determine, according to the nature of the circumstance and the uncompleted requirements, how much additional time, up to 12 months, will be allowed for completing the work before a permanent grade is assigned. An Assignment of Incomplete Grade form is completed by the instructor in VIP as part of the usual grade submission process. This form must specify the justification for the I, conditions for make-up, and a deadline for completion. The justification for the incomplete grade, conditions for make-up, a deadline for completion, and a back-up grade if the course work is not completed by the deadline must be included on the form. Re-enrolling in a course will not make up an incomplete grade. A grade of I is not computed in the calculation of a student’s cumulative grade point average until the make-up grade is posted.

There is no automatic time period for completion of the work for which a grade of incomplete is given. The instructor should give the student a reasonable deadline, up to one year after the scheduled end of the course, to complete the work. After 12 months an I (incomplete) grade that has not been replaced with a letter grade is changed permanently to a grade of F or to the backup grade indicated by the faculty member on the Assignment of Incomplete Grade form. In the rare instance the instructor believes there is justification for an extension beyond the 12 month limit, a request for extension of incomplete time should be submitted to the dean of The Graduate School before the expiration of the 12 month period on the Extension of Incomplete Time Period Authorization (GS-47) form for approval. The Graduate School does not approve the make-up of I grades in courses which are already out-of-date for use on a student’s program of study or extensions of time without sufficient justification and/or supporting documentation.

Graduate students cannot register for additional coursework if there are 3 or more temporary grades of incomplete (I) that have not yet been replaced with a permanent grade on their academic record. Student enrolled in graduate study may not graduate with a temporary grade of I on their record, even if that course is not listed on the Program of Study.

NR (no record) is a temporary mark on the transcript assigned by the Office of the University Registrar if a grade has not been submitted by the instructor at the proper time or if any grade not approved for a particular course has been submitted. As a temporary mark on the transcript the NR must be replaced by a grade. If the NR is not resolved or replaced by the instructor with a valid end-of-term grade before the end of the major (Fall or Spring) term following the term for which the grade of NR was recorded, a grade of F will be assigned.

Pass-Fail Option
Unless there is an academic program exception explicitly approved by the Graduate Council, a graduate student may elect Pass-Fail grading in a course only if the content is outside the student’s major area of study and is not required on the program of study. This option permits enrichment of the student’s learning experience and a grade of either S (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory) will be awarded. Courses completed with a satisfactory grade may be counted toward total credit hours earned. A grade of U received under the individual Pass-Fail Option will be calculated into the cumulative grade point average as a grade of F. Students must have the approval of their academic program advisor and the dean of The Graduate School prior to registration.

Other important links:

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